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The Woman I Left Behind: a Novel [Paperback]

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Item description for The Woman I Left Behind: a Novel by Kim Jensen...

The Woman I Left Behind is a poetically written novel about a turbulent love affair between a young American woman and a Palestinian refugee. When Irene, an intelligent, committed and discerning student meets Khalid, a Palestinian refugee now living in Southern California, she immediately knows that this man would cause her both immense pain and immense joy. Coming from two separate worlds that are at odds with each other, both Irene and Khalid have to overcome their cultural differences. Irene comes to realize that she has to break free from her parents' norms and values and lead a more meaningful life-a life not guided by superficialities but by a sense of commitment and purpose. After opening her eyes not only to the psychological wounds Khalid suffered during his experiences of war, deportation, and exile, but also to her own childhood wounds, Irene abandons her detached self, ultimately leading to a reconciliation with Khalid.

With its detailed depictions of modern Palestinian history, as well as its cast of colorful characters-from Palestinian feminists to American cyberpunks-Kim Jensen's novel reiterates the vital connections between politics, the imagination, and the most intimate aspects of our lives.

Kim Jensen has lived and taught in the Arab world. She has published her work in a variety of journals and magazines. In 2001, she won the Raymond Carver prize for short fiction. Currently, she teaches writing in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   244
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2006
Publisher   Curbstone Press
ISBN  1931896224  
ISBN13  9781931896221  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kim Jensen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kim Jensen has lived and taught in the Arab World, and has published her work in a variety of journals and magazines. In 2001, she won the Raymond Carver Prize for Short Fiction. She currently teaches writing and literature in Baltimore, MD.

Kim Jensen was born in 1966.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary

Reviews - What do customers think about The Woman I Left Behind: a Novel?

An emotional rollercoaster well worth riding  Apr 12, 2007
There is an inexplicable fascination around relationships and the dynamics between people. There is something bizarrely enjoyable about watching or learning about other people's lives - perhaps as a means of escape from our own or better yet a subconscious desire to compare and contrast or even live our lives vicariously through others. This is why we are so drawn to reality shows in today's day and age.

This book doesn't quite satisfy the latter part of my hypothesis but I did pick it up because I was immensely intrigued to read about the dynamic between the all-American Irene and the pure-bred Palestinian Khalid. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that the "differences" referred to by the author were not of the generic and expected nature referring to the current political state of affairs between the superpower and the defenseless rapidly dying country but rather a story about a boy and a girl who fall in love and happen to endure their own set of ups and downs.

Not to say there is no reference to the political state - as there absolutely is - but it is cleverly and nonchalantly folded into the story as no more than a backdrop as opposed to taking center stage. This book is so engrossing, so rich and so dramatic in description, symbolism and in the simple construction of words. It is like prose on a treadmill.

The author tackles a lot of significant and very deep issues in her story thereby setting the stage for a mesmerizing and culturally enlightening ride. As a Palestinian, I can attest to the accuracy with which she captured the political and social mood, the exile, the emotions and the passion and fire with which Khalid lives his life. The events in this story are so intense that you will experience love in its purest form and anger in its most raw and ugly state. This book has the power to rock your emotions in a state of frenzy - like a rollercoaster - your emotions will soar and then plummet in a matter of minutes.....It is a book of rare proportions - not to be missed.
The Woman I Left Behind  Dec 29, 2006
This book was definetly one of the best books I've ever read, and I strongly recommend it. It was so true when Khalid said of Irene, but it applies to every American, she has an inborn, cultural arrogance that makes her blindto other ways of acting,perceiving, thinking about the world.This explains the bumper stickers, Proud to be an American and flags everywhere. Americans don't see the pain they are causing because they are all blind with arrogance. I learned, and laughed and cried from this book! It was hard to put down and I hated to finish reading it, I wanted it to go on but I would like to see Israel end it's occupation of Palestine!
Consciousness--Revised!  Nov 28, 2006
The very best qualities of Kim Jensen's spicy first novel "The Woman I Left Behind" must be experienced for one's self. From the vivid descriptions of historically-accurate war-torn vignettes of a life forever lost in Palestine & Beirut to the airy coast of California, the setting frames the tumble of fast-paced emotional events. I couldn't put it down!

The freshness of youthful experience merges into resolution of distinctly different personal histories of a rocky intercultural relationship to create new threads of connectivity between Irene & Khalid in unexpected ways. Although from two very different worlds--she a child of White Western Privilege & a recovering rape victim; he a displaced Palestinian refugee who has forever lost his home & family through violent injustice of the IDF Occupation, each brings their unique pain & universal struggles to the relationship. Each has experienced forms of oppression which define their identitities. While they endure & sometimes transcend so many obstacles in their path, they are stunned to discover they are each capable of taking on the role of the oppressor as well. As their sense of social justice grows, they become more aware of this tragic possibility.

This is a perceptive first novel--it is about paying attention to details & listening to the signals around us. It is about building bridges, not tearing one another down. Its analogies hold a greater message involving the causes of suffering & redemption, between will-to-power & desire.

"The Woman I Left Behind" contains an elusive key to peace--within ourselves, within our culture & the greater world around us. If we would only listen.

A good first novel  Jun 11, 2006
This book started out poorly, built a crescendo and finished interestingly. It is a noble effort for a first time book and throughout, presented some interesting concepts for the reader to think about.
In a sentence it is the story of a secular young Palestinian man living in America and his romance with a well to do, Caucasian college woman. It is told from her perspective.
The weaker aspects of the book primarily arise in the beginning. There is too much reliance of stereotype when describing the "enemy". There is also a simplistic use of popular culture to make a point. Having tyrannical bosses at the bakery use a double standard or informing the reader that BMWs are referred to as "Beemers" made me wince but they occurred early and the story got better.
There is an underlying beauty to this mid eastern culture. Historically there was a beacon of art and science shining from that part of the world. Fundamental religious/political leaders of course have used the last several centuries to suppress that, but lore and poetry and music can survive even if relegated to the underground.
The protagonists, Irene and Khalid are presented very believably. Their relationship is tempestuous and it is largely due to the significant cultural variance in their lives. It is thought provoking throughout. Two of the several questions posed to the reader are:
-"Is there a reason or faith that humans can best make sense of their painful experience?"
-Which is a stronger human trait-The will to power or Desire? Which compels us to respond in this world?
Jensen makes several points in the book that particularly interested this reader. Her Palestinian characters were secular. This suggests that within this culture so demonized here in the US for its radical fundamentalism, there are free thinkers and perhaps there are millions of them.
She also rips into the lazy sort of Post Modern thinking that suggests we are incapable of making value judgments because we are bound by the fetters of culture. Khalid, in one of his rages suggests to Irene threat "You are so liberal here, everything has the same exact value, which comes down to NO value whatsoever"
Jensen introduces skeptical thinking when Khalid states that "Getting Real" means maintaining an attitude of deep suspicion. Though not stated in the book, it is important that the suspicion be based on some identifiable causes and also not be understood as cynicism.
Finally the author's characters voice atheism in the face of the experiences they have had and shared. In lament, Irene imagines "...a god crucified for nothing...there was a real god named No God; and she lived in the center of its expanding absence."
Ms Jensen has a good running start on becoming a great novelist. Those of us who may desire publishing their own first novel hope to do as fine a job.

A Book Not to Be Left Behind  May 6, 2006
After reading this wonderful book I find myself compelled to write a review in an effort to encourage others to read it as well. It really is an intelligent piece of literature keeping you enthralled to the point that when it finally comes to a conclusion you want nothing more than to pick it back up and start reading it again. I cannot say enough about this book and urge you with great sincerity to not only read this book, and love it as I am sure you will, but to also tell others about it and share it with them. This is a little known piece of literature that I really believe will stand the test of time and deserves national recognition.

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